Crabby Old Woman

(With thanks to my step-father who shared this with me)

When an old woman died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, it was believed that she had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through her meagre possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Alberta.

The old woman’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on this simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this little old woman, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the internet.

 

Crabby Old Woman (a.k.a. Look Closer, Nurse)

What do you see nurses? .. .. .. What do you see?
What are you thinking .. .. .. when you’re looking at me?
A crabby old lady .. .. .. not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. .. .. with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food .. .. .. and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice .. .. .. ‘I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice .. .. .. the things that you do.
And forever is losing .. .. .. a sock or a shoe?

Who, resisting of not .. .. .. lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding .. .. .. a long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? .. .. .. Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .. .. .. you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am .. .. .. as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding .. .. ..as I eat at your will.
I’m a small girl of Ten .. .. .. with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. .. .. who love one another.

A young girl of Sixteen .. .. .. with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now .. .. .. a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty .. .. .. my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows .. .. .. that I promised to keep.

At Twenty Five, now .. .. .. I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide .. .. .. a secure happy home.
A woman of Thirty .. .. .. my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other .. .. .. with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons .. .. .. have grown and are gone,
But my man is beside me .. .. .. to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. .. .. babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children .. .. .. my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me .. .. .. my husband’s now dead.
I look at the future .. .. .. and shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. .. .. young of their own.
And I think of the years .. .. .. and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old woman .. .. .. and nature is cruel.
‘Tis jest to make old age .. .. .. look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. .. grace and vigour depart.
There is now a stone .. .. .. where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass .. .. .. a young girl still dwells,
And now and again .. .. .. my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys .. .. .. I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living .. .. .. life over again.

I think of the years, all too few .. .. .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact .. .. .. that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. .. .. open and see,
Not a crabby old woman .. .. .. look closer .. .. .. see ME!!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within.

We will all, one day, be there, too!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POEM
The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. they must be felt by the heart.

 

AFTERWORD

Yes, I went and looked for the slide deck and discovered many claims that this is a hoax.

Doesn’t matter.

The message still accomplishes its goal: Look Closer.


The Power of Not Knowing: Liz Wiseman

Liz Wiseman (@LizWiseman) spoke with pending graduates of Stanford at the DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series (@ECorner). I wish there had been more time for Q&A at the end (but, really, we always want more time). But once you meet nine year old Zia, the talk takes off.

  • Just have fewer diminishing moments and string together a lot more multiplier moments.
  • When your people are struggling, it’s irresponsible not to help. But you have to remember to hand the pen back.
  • The best leaders not only give people a pat on the back, they give them a push into operating in the unknown.
  • As we move into a leadership role, nothing is more important than being able to ask the right questions.
  • Maintain your rookie smarts.

PS: Her blog post on Rookies for Harvard Business Review (@HarvardBiz) can be found here.

PPS: I got an overwhelming reminder of the role of Search (as opposed to the role of Execute) in customer development and business model generation — expertly explained by Steve Blank (@sgblank).


The Tribes We Lead: Seth Godin

“Try to find a piece of the status quo — something that bothers you, something that needs to be improved, something that is itching to be changed — and change it.”

Ah, TED Talks (@TEDTalks). I love watching these insightful and thoughtful talks.  Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog) spoke at TED about implementing change in your world — that part of your life that you care most deeply about — and connecting with others who are just waiting for you to lead them.

  • Try to make big, permanent, important change.
  • We are living through, and are right at the key moment of, a change in the way ideas are created and spread and implemented.
  • The way we make change today is not by using money or power to lever a system, but by leading.
  • Tribes can change our world by aligning large numbers of people that want to connect.
  • What we do for a living now, all of us, I think, is find something worth changing, and then assemble tribes that spread the idea.
  • The Beatles did not invent teenagers. They merely decided to lead them.
  • Your mission (should you choose to accept it): upset, connect and lead.
  • You don’t need permission from people to lead them. But in case you do, here it is: they’re waiting, we’re waiting, for you to show us where to go next.

PS: When you have a chance, Google “Stop Stealing Dreams” (or watch this and read that).


Leadership is a Choice: General Stanley McChrystal

“It takes inspirational leaders who are willing to stand up and take that role – who realize that leaders actually lead.”

General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal (@StanMcChrystal) talks leadership, culture change and team at Stanford Graduate School of Business (@StanfordBiz). Take 30 minutes for the entire talk here.

  • Being satisfied with the status quo can lead to being unprepared for the constant change in the world.
  • The organization can choose to learn and adapt, or it can choose to be disrupted.
  • Convince people that what you want them to do is something they want to do, and that it is in their best interest.
  • It’s about winning.
  • There is a limit to physics. You can get better and better and better, but at a certain point you can’t get that much better. Some other way must be found.
  • There is only one of you. Realize that you are human, and that the people around you are human. Take care of them just like you take care of yourself.
  • Shared Consciousness and Purpose: A level of transparency and inclusiveness where the organization shares informed perspectives AND a sense of common ownership and responsibility for a clearly understood mission.
  • You must ensure that everyone understands not just where you are going, but how you are getting there.
  • In your organization, if you don’t share information, if you don’t make people feel a part of it, will they celebrate the big win?
  • Ultimately, it’s about trust.
  • (27:10) Get your interactions right.
  • People watch everything you do. You are leading by example every moment of every day.
  • [Show them that] you are willing to be there when it’s late / dangerous / cold / undesirable.

Culture Trumps Strategy: Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN

Earlier this year, Mindy Grossman (@MindyGrossman) gave an excellent interview as part of the View from the Top Speaker Series at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (@StanfordBiz).

I’ve captured some of the highlights from this direct, no-nonsense 48 minute talk entitled Culture Trumps Strategy … but you can watch it for yourself here.

  • In order to build a long term sustainable and successful company, you need an incredibly engaged culture.
  • Nobody was telling our story.
  • When you have 8 CEOs in 10 years, the culture freezes. No strategy is implemented. People were feeling downtrodden, asking what were their opportunities for success?
  • I knew the first story I had to tell was “Why was I there? Why was I passionate about the future of this company?”, and I had to make it personal.
  • Igniting the culture and being believable, and then setting a vision, is what changed the entire business dynamic.
  • When your employee is asked by a neighbour, “Who do you work for?”, you want your employee to be your greatest evangelist.
  • I believe that you have to get rid of toxicity in any company. I don’t care how smart or how talented the person is, or how long the person has been there.
  • You have to set bold goals, but then you have to give your people a path to get there. You can’t just put them out there with out the strategy.
  • You (want to) inspire people to have a mission.
  • We want to be a company of firsts.
  • If you don’t disrupt yourself, you will be disrupted by somebody else.
  • What is she feeling? (referring to the customer)
  • We’re just going to make her feel great, if she wants to buy a mascara … and we’re really going to respect her, if she can’t buy anything.
  • Trust and respect.
  • Create an experience for our customer.
  • You will be a lot more successful, and the company will be a lot more successful, and you will be a lot less frustrated, if you stop trying to make ordinary people extraordinary … and surround yourself with extraordinary people.
  • Ask the “soul” questions. I want to hear the “Why”.
  • Who are you and what are your values …and are they aligned with the values of our company?
  • What’s our culture?
  • Don’t look only at what’s in front of you today … instead, focus on conceptualizing a new vision and leap into it.
  • What do I want to be a part of? What do I see as growing?
  • Never be in a position to feel trapped.
  • Know yourself.